Chicago Tribune (MCT)
Rosario Marroquin with her son, Valentin, 10. Valentin
is in remission from leukemia, which a study has found
to be extremely prevalent in the area around the heavily
industrialized Houston Ship Channel.
Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/MCT
It was an ideal neighborhood, except for the coughing spells, the nosebleeds, the burning odors and the acrid smoke.
Marroquin's family, like most everyone else in the neighborhood, did their best to ignore all that, because few could afford to move anywhere else. And they tried not to notice the dozens of oil refineries, petrochemical plants and waste disposal sites expanding all around them, their towering smokestacks and huge storage tanks lining the Houston Ship Channel, the city's principal outlet to the sea.
But then the cancers started to appear. First the neighbor in back, then another across the street, then a boy down the block. And finally, in 2003, Marroquin's son, Valentin, came down with leukemia at the age of 6.